Moms giving birth at Alaska’s largest maternity center now get to go home with a free goodie box that could potentially prove life-saving.
Providence Alaska Medical Center in partnership with Premera Blue Cross began offering the 2-foot-long, 1-foot-wide “safe sleep” cardboard baby boxes to new parents at the end of May.
The project is currently in its pilot phase, according to Premera spokeswoman Melanie Coon. She said it will run until the end of August or whenever the hospital has distributed all of its 800 boxes.
The sturdy box comes covered in a print of cartoon baby Alaska animals and includes a firm foam mattress with a waterproof cover, several onesies, baby wipes and a newborn-sized “sleep sack.” The box is based on one in a Finnish government program that began in the 1930s and is thought to have contributed to the country’s low infant mortality rates.
Providence is the first hospital in Anchorage to offer the program but it’s not the first in the state. Ketchikan has been giving out similar boxes for more than a year. In February, Juneau’s Bartlett Regional Hospital began distributing boxes.
Providence and Premera are waiting to see if the program has applications in Alaska’s largest city. The Providence maternity center is the largest in the state, delivering approximately 250 babies each month,or about eight a day.
Coon said that before distributing the boxes in Anchorage, they wanted to make sure new parents were even interested in the concept.
“The pilot period allows the ability to review the effectiveness,” Coon said. “We didn’t want to go purchase a bunch of them and have people not like them.”